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Old 08-18-2003, 07:02   #1 (permalink)
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U.S.A.:Ford's new model plan riles UAW

Mexico, Canada plants to build new midsize products

By Mark Truby / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- Ford Motor Co. has shelved plans for a new car factory in Atlanta and is preparing to build its new family of midsize sedans and sport wagons in Mexico and Canada, angering some United Auto Workers leaders as both sides enter a key phase of negotiations on a new national labor pact.

Ford plans to produce its new American family car, the Futura, along with other variations of the vehicle, at a factory in Hermosillo, Mexico, beginning in 2005, according to two UAW officials and several industry analysts. Starting in 2006, the automaker is scheduled to begin production of Ford- and Lincoln-branded sport wagons at a plant in Oakville, Ontario.

The loser in this scenario is Ford's work force in Atlanta, which will now produce the aging Taurus and Sable sedans until late in the decade, UAW officials said.

The Atlanta work force was preparing to build the Futura or the sport wagons in Atlanta -- either at the existing plant or a new plant in the region -- before Ford changed plans earlier this year, said Mitchell Smith, shop chairman of UAW Local 882 in Atlanta, which represents about 2,100 Ford workers.

"It's Canada 1, Mexico 1 and the United States 0," Smith said. "It's not pretty at all for us. We know the Futura's going to Mexico and the (sport wagons) are going to Canada. They are sending all that production to other countries."

Smith said the union understands that Ford will annually produce 400,000 of the new cars in Hermosillo, Mexico, and about 200,000 of the sport wagons in Oakville, Ontario.

The new models are part of Ford's plans to build 10 midsize vehicles -- representing as many as 800,000 units of annual production -- off the basic chassis and underpinnings of the Mazda6 sedan.

Ford has not publicly announced where it will build the new vehicles.

One Ford official, however, told The Detroit News that it is likely the first of the new vehicles will indeed be built in Mexico and Canada. Other models to be built off the Mazda-based chassis and scheduled to be introduced at a later date could be produced in Atlanta once the Taurus and Sable are discontinued, the official said.

Union opposition

The UAW, which has 95,570 members employed by Ford, fiercely opposes the production of Big Three models for the U.S. market in foreign countries.

The union complained bitterly when GM opted to build the Chevrolet Avalanche pickup in Mexico rather than at a U.S. plant.

With Detroit automakers shedding thousands of jobs to reflect lower sales and falling U.S. market share in recent years, the union is desperate to keep jobs in the United States. The union typically uses contract bargaining to pressure automakers into building future models at U.S. plants.

But under a sweeping turnaround plan announced in early 2002, Ford plans to close assembly plants in St. Louis, Mo., and Edison, N.J., as well as an Oakville, Ontario, pickup factory and two U.S. parts plants. Combined with other production cuts, the proposed closings will reduce Ford's annual North American capacity to 4.8 million units from 5.7 million units -- eliminating 12,000 hourly jobs.

According to Smith of the UAW, the bad news for Atlanta's work force came in a town hall-style meeting in late June. At the meeting, Ford officials said the automaker was suspending plans to build a new assembly plant and a nearby supplier park in the Atlanta area, but would continue to study the idea, Smith said.

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Ford was considering two sites for the new plant -- one in Georgia's Meriwether County, about 50 miles southwest of Atlanta, and another in Morgan County, about 60 miles east of Atlanta.

The existing Atlanta facility, built in 1947, is landlocked, ruling out an expansion of the factory and the construction of an adjacent supplier park.

The UAW's Smith said Ford informed local union officials that the Atlanta plant would continue building the Taurus and Sable sedans through the 2009 model year. Most analysts that track automotive production plans had expected the Taurus and Sable to be discontinued in 2005 or 2006.

Past their prime

The Taurus and Sable, which compete in a competitive market segment that includes the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, are already past their prime and serve primarily to stock rental car agencies and fleet customers. With the introduction of the Futura in 2005, and the new, larger Five-Hundred sedan that will be built in Chicago beginning next year, demand for the Taurus is likely to drop sharply. The union is concerned that if Taurus and Sable demand wanes, Ford will be forced to lay off workers or eliminate a production shift in Atlanta.

"Of course we are concerned," said Clarence Williams, area director of UAW Region 8 in Smyrna, Ga. "We were looking forward to building a new product. At the last minute, they dashed our hopes. Now our people will be building a product that has outlived its styling."

Ford said it remains commited to its work force in Atlanta whether or not it decides to build a new factory in Georgia.

"We are not in a position to discuss our plans for the Atlanta plant," Ford spokesman Ed Lewis said. "We have a great work force, and we are interested in continuing Ford's presense in Georgia."

UAW International Vice President Gerald Bantom, who oversees Ford-related bargaining, did not respond to interview requests. Smith said the UAW International leaders are aware of Ford's plans to build new vehicles in Mexico and Canada. It is not clear whether the issue has come up in contact negotiations that began earlier this month.

Industry experts say Ford isn't likely to commit to building a new plant in Atlanta unless it receives significant concessions in return from the UAW.

"Everything is up for negotiation," said Sean McAlinden, who monitors labor talks for the UAW. "Why not use Atlanta for a bargaining chip? Why would you announce anything before the negotiations?"

Ford's Oakville, Ontario, facility, which builds minivans, will undergo a major renovation in the next few years. Ford is considering making an investment that would convert the plant into a flexible manufacturing site capable of building a number of different models.

Ford plans to build two sport wagons -- sometimes referred to as car-based sport utility vehicles, said Eric Merkle, an automotive analyst with IRN in Grand Rapids.

Merkle said suppliers have been informed there will be Ford and Lincoln versions of the sport wagons. Company sources said the initial plan is to build 200,000 of the new SUVs along with another 150,000 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans at the Oakville van plant.

In early 2002, Ford announced plans to close its F-150 truck plant in Oakville in 2004 and later pledged to add 900 jobs at the adjacent Oakville van plant as part of a settlement with Canadian unions.

Ford's plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, which employs 2,400 workers, builds Ford Focus two-door hatchbacks and four-door hatchbacks.

When Hermosillo begins building the Futura, Ford has the option of moving Focus production to its plant in Wayne, Mich., which currently builds Focus sedans and wagons.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

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Old 08-18-2003, 13:10   #2 (permalink)
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Re: U.S.A.:Ford's new model plan riles UAW

Not before time either. The UAW did it's best to ruin the US auto industry throughout the 70's and 80's and have continued to push their agenda over the last two decades as well.

It was always only going to be a matter of time before the big three decided to push more and more production out of that environment inot one that was a little more conducive to reason.

The really sad part about this is that the UAW hasn't represented the views of the membership for nearly 30 years.

Cheers
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Old 08-19-2003, 06:25   #3 (permalink)
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Re: U.S.A.:Ford's new model plan riles UAW

I'm glad Ford are finally taking this approach, the UAW have ruled over Ford for far too long and its time for change.
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Old 08-19-2003, 09:16   #4 (permalink)
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New Ford plant in doubt
Automaker reportedly looks abroad, not in Georgia

By PÉRALTE C. PAUL
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Concerns about the future of Ford Motor Co.'s aging Hapeville plant and what vehicles might be built there are being renewed with a report that the company will build a new line of cars in Mexico and Canada.

The Detroit News reported Monday that Ford will build its midsize Futura car line in Hermosillo, Mexico, starting in 2005, and sport wagons under the Ford and Lincoln nameplates a year later in Oakville, Ontario. The newspaper cited union officials and industry analysts.

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford, which had been searching for a site in Georgia to replace the Hapeville factory, would not comment on the report. That search apparently is on hold for now.

At the same time, the world's second-largest automaker, which is negotiating contracts with union employees, reiterated its commitment to its Georgia work force of 2,300. The Hapeville plant is consistently ranked as one of the most efficient in the auto industry.

"We don't talk about our future product plans or our future manufacturing facilities," Ford spokesman Ed Lewis said Monday. "We can't comment one way or the other."

The Detroit News report said plans for a new Georgia plant have been scrapped. While Ford declined comment, a union official said those plans aren't entirely dead.

"They've said they will continue to study it," said Mitchell Smith, shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 882, which represents the Hapeville employees. "But the company said it has made no commitments."

Kevin Langston, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism, said, "We're working with them on ensuring the future of the operations in Georgia. We are working with them on assuring that they have a long-term presence in Georgia, and we believe that they are committed to that as well."

The 56-year-old Hapeville plant, which has been producing the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable since 1985, has no more room for expansion, the company has said. "We are reviewing our plans for that plant, but no decisions have been reached," Lewis said.

Outright closing of the 128-acre facility just south of Atlanta doesn't appear to be under consideration.

"That's not in our plans," Lewis said. "We've got a great work force there, in a great state, and we certainly hope to maintain our presence there with our work force."

At a meeting June 20 with the Hapeville employees, Ford officials said production of the Taurus and Sable would continue there through 2008.

Though still popular in fleet and corporate sales, the Taurus, once the best-selling car in North America, and the Sable are not in as much demand by consumers.

In April, Ford announced Futura production would start in 2005. The Futura line, one of 10 new models Ford has planned for its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury nameplates, would be designed to compete with Honda's Accord, Toyota's Camry and Volkswagen's Passat.

The 10 new lines eventually would reach an annual North American volume of 800,000 units, Ford President Nick Scheele said in April.

Union officials in Hapeville had expected one of those new lines would be built in a new Georgia plant. State officials have said Ford narrowed its choices to locations in Morgan and Meriwether counties, west and south of Atlanta, respectively. A decision had been expected by September.

Ford has never publicly said it was looking to replace its Hapeville plant, nor has it said what will happen after 2008, when the Taurus and Sable are phased out.

"That's the $64,000 question at the moment," said George Peterson, president of the automotive research firm AutoPacific.

A decision to build the Futura in Mexico and the sport wagons in Canada could be based on lower pay scales for workers in those countries, he said. Production quality isn't as high as at Hapeville, Peterson said, but it might be worth it to Ford.

Peterson said he believes Ford extended the production life of the Taurus and Sable to "ride out" the economic downturn. That keeps the work force in place until an economic upswing occurs and Ford can justify the expense of building a new plant.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

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Old 08-20-2003, 09:01   #5 (permalink)
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Re: U.S.A.:Ford's new model plan riles UAW

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stacy94PGT
New Ford plant in doubt
Automaker reportedly looks abroad, not in Georgia...

...The Detroit News reported Monday that Ford will build its midsize Futura car line in Hermosillo, Mexico, starting in 2005, and sport wagons under the Ford and Lincoln nameplates a year later in Oakville, Ontario. The newspaper cited union officials and industry analysts.

...At a meeting June 20 with the Hapeville employees, Ford officials said production of the Taurus and Sable would continue there through 2008....
All I can say is...don't bet on any of this. You'll see.
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Old 08-20-2003, 19:58   #6 (permalink)
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UAW official slams Ford's 'overseas' product plans
Reuters / August 20, 2003

DETROIT (Reuters) -- The UAW official in charge of contract talks with Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday he opposes the automaker's plans to build a lineup of new vehicles outside the United States.

"I'm upset about the fact that Ford Motor Co. plans to, first of all, not build in Atlanta, and then also to send that particular work to Canada and also to Mexico," UAW International Vice President Gerald Bantom told Reuters.

Bantom was referring to what industry analysts have said are Ford's plans to build a new mid-sized family sedan at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, and at least two new mid-sized SUVs at another plant in Oakville, Ontario.

Bantom was also referring to the uncertain future faced by Ford's plant in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, where it builds the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, aging vehicles that Ford is expected to kill off this decade.

Bantom did not elaborate or say how Ford's plans could affect the outcome of the labor talks that began last month.

Ed Lewis, a spokesman for Ford, said he was unable to comment on the company's plans for its Atlanta plant or the plants in Mexico and Canada.

"We don't discuss future product plans and future business strategies," Lewis said.

Ford has targeted at least two U.S. assembly plants for shutdowns as part of the multiyear turnaround plan it launched in January 2002. Any decision to build new products in lower-cost labor markets outside the United States is sure to be an issue in the labor negotiations.

The talks, involving not only Ford but General Motors and the Chrysler unit of DaimlerChrysler AG,will heat up around Labor Day when the UAW typically picks a "target company" for its hardest bargaining. After hammering out an agreement with the first company, the UAW takes that pattern for labor contracts it will sign with the other two.

Ford has lagged its Detroit competitors in bulking up Mexican production. Ford's two Mexican plants have built about 4 percent of Ford's North American output this year, and Ford is killing the Escort car line built there.

Meanwhile, Chrysler has two plants in Mexico with capacity for more than 400,000 vehicles that account for roughly 17 percent of its North American output. And GM has three assembly plants capable of building at least 500,000 vehicles a year in Mexico, or about 9 percent of its North American production.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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